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Testing BBs for accuracy

by B.B. Pelletier

Yesterday we looked at BBs to see how uniform they were. I didn’t measure or weigh them, which I normally would have if uniformity was what I was after, but what I really wanted to know was whether it made any difference on target. A lot of airgunners waste their time (I think) worrying about details that really do not matter in the end. If pellet B shoots the best, who cares that it has the largest weight variance or the greatest dimensional difference? Obviously, not the gun! Since the purpose of shooting is to hit the target, I usually cut to the chase as soon as possible. How does it do at the range?

The test
I used a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 to test all BBs. The targets were placed at 5 meters (16.4 feet), and the range was lit properly for shooting with aperture sights. I shot offhand. Although I’m not a great rifle shooter, I can usually keep them on a dime at this range. I shot about 20 warm-up shots to get into the groove and to allow my pupils to dilate to the target light. Once I was warmed up, I shot three groups with each of the three BBs – Avanti precision ground shot, Daisy Premium Grade BBs and Crosman Copperhead BBs. The shooting was in rotation, with the first type of BB, then the second and then the third. Once the first three targets were completed, I rotated back to the first BB for target No. 4, and so on. That way, each BB got a fair break from me.

Uniformity is demonstrated
The 499 is loaded for each shot by dropping a BB down the muzzle. You can hear it roll down the precision smoothbore barrel and click to rest against a magnet at the end. How long it takes to roll down demonstrates both the size and the uniformity of the BB being loaded. Avanti BBs took the longest to roll down, ranging from 2 to 5 seconds apiece. However, there were a few that made it down in less than a second. Daisy Premium Grade BBs were all down in less than one second, with most ranging between one-quarter and one-half second to make the trip. Crosman Copperheads went the quickest, at between one-eighth and one-quarter second. That doesn’t tell too much about the standard BBs, but it does indicate that the Avanti precision ground shot has the largest size variance of all. Who woulda thunk it?

Shooting the 499
The 499 is very light, so holding steady on target is more of a chore than it would be with a 12-lb. target rifle. Also, the single-stage trigger has a very long pull that doesn’t help much. I tried to shoot before becoming tired in position on every shot, but holding a 3-lb. rifle is like holding nothing. I’m sure my technique was poor as a result.

I didn’t go downrange to look at the targets until all shooting was finished. That kept me from biasing the results by trying harder. BB holes don’t show up well in target paper. Since a lot of them were in the black, I really didn’t know how it was going until the whole thing was over. I zeroed the gun with Avanti shot, and both standard BBs shot low and to the left.

The results
All three BBs turned in great targets. I cannot say that there is a difference between them, except I did get one really great group with Daisy’s Premium Grade. That group was pure luck, because the other two groups were no smaller than either of the other BBs. The largest group was made by the Avanti shot, but it’s clearly a case of a bad shooter, because the other two groups are right in there with the other two BBs. The most uniform groups were shot with the Crosman Copperheads, which had the smallest cumulative group size. I guess that lays to rest any doubt about their accuracy potential. Like everything else, that was luck, too, but it demonstrates that if the shot is good, the BB goes where it should.

This group of Daisy Premium Grade BBs was the best of the session. The rest grouped about three-fourths the size of the dime, except one really bad group of Avanti shot.

My verdict is that both Daisy and Crosman BBs are equally accurate, despite how they appear. I plan on shooting the Avanti shot in the 499 from now on, simply because it is made for the gun. Maybe some day I will shoot good enough to merit it.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

20 thoughts on “Testing BBs for accuracy”

  1. B.B.’s a bad shot with a rifle? Huh, never saw that one coming. I guess I just assumed that you were a really good shot. Which brings about another question, if you are a bad shot with a rifle, how is it that you can test the accuracy of a rifle for the best groups it can do. I always figured that if someone wasn’t a great shooter, they couldn’t ever shoot as well as the gun can. Of course, this doesn’t just go for you, I thought this for anybody who shoots guns.



  2. lama,

    I know of nobody who can shoot all the time as well as a good rifle is capable of grouping. Olympians can’t even do it.

    I am just an average rifle shot. That makes me more like the people who are likely to read this blog.

    I post what I can do with a particular gun, but don’t think it can’t be improved on. So I may not be posting the absolute best any air rifle can do, but when the groupa are tight, that’s a good gun. And when they’re open, it’s probably not as good.


  3. Disagree that your loading test suggests Avantis have largest variance. When there’s less clearance, smaller differences become more important. Think of dropping a bb down a 1/2 vs a 1″ conduit.

  4. very interesting! what amazes me are both that the bbs made no difference on target, and how accurate bbs are despite rough finishing. if only lead could be alike. i realize this discussion is over, but perhaps this is due to the bbs rolling loosely through the barrel as opposed to scraping past. oh, and i think airsoft bbs have more of an impact when it comes to mould lines contacting hop-up. as you say though, its all accurate, who cares!

  5. B.B.

    Ok, I see how that works. Update on my screwed up Cf-x. I noticed today that the rotating breech will always open. Normally when the rifle is not cocked the piston bears against it and it won’t open. Now, even when it isn’t cocked, it will just slide open. Still sound like a broken mainspring? I’m going to send it in to gamo, I’m pretty sure it’s still under warrenty. Too bad, you pay a bunch for something and I guess you just don’t expect it to break.



  6. Just responding about the GAMO bbs. They are the most accurate in cheaper Daisy BB/ pellet combo. This is my knock about, play with gun. Crosman were last, and daisy second. I usually shoot pellets but tried bbs.


  7. Can you recomend a good pistol for informal (local matches) 10 meter. I shoot rifle (10m Olimpic both .22 and Ansultz PCP) in high school in St. louis. I’m looking into getting into pistols on my own time. I own a couple rifles but no pistols. I’m pretty expereinced. I was looking at the Marksman 2004, IZH 53m, Crosman 2300T(nice review), and Daisy 747. How is the Crosman 1377, though it’s not on my list (not a fan of pumping in a 60 shot match!). Which is the most accurate, best bargain (I’m sort of broke), and best sights. Keep up the good work.


  8. HB again,

    I know there is a huge price difference betwwn the daisy and crosman and the cheaper Marksman and IZH. Can you give me a idea of which is better in the $50 range and the $125 range. I would like to spend less money if the gun won’t break and can hit a quarter or so from a rest.


  9. Cudos for admitting the limitations of your testing process BB. the can of worms was handled well also.

    bench rest that gun at 30 yds w/ those pellets…. you know what we’re looking for

  10. BB
    Are you going to finish you review on the Gamo Nitro express. I have been wating for you full opinion on the gun before I buy and I was jsut wondering when you were going to tell us how she shoots.
    Thank you

  11. Thanks for going thru all that trouble in testing the accuracy.I have only my crosman c11 to start with and the crosman copperhead bbs were the only bbs on sale in LeBaron,Canada.My barrel is not rifled so I can safely assume it won’t be affected by the pits and bumps of the bb but what would happen if the barrel is rifled?
    I read somewhere that some CO2 air pistols(eg.Crosman 1088) shoot both pellets and bbs and since the pellets need rifling,then the bbs,when shot,could affect the ridges of the barrel,right?Won’t these same ridges,that ensure accuracy,be somewhat compromised?
    By the way,i am a beginner and have shot the copperhead bbs from the c11,standing up,at a distance of 5m.I can safely say that the accuraccy is pretty good as you have done with your rifle.
    I just wonder if it is possible to bolt the rifle onto a rigid gun vise and empty a grouping of,say,3 rounds.Hence,you don’t need to hold it and since the recoil is not there to compromise accuracy and badly needed re-sighting, then, every shot is guaranteed the same conditions and any deviation can be pinned down to the bb itself.

  12. I noticed that you used a spring rifle to test all of these bbs… And I along with most of the people that have bb guns use bb pistols, which operate on gas. What would seem likely with gas guns is that the daisy bbs would be more accuate because of the better uniformity. Now I know you tested this and may have proved the uniformity of these bbs didn’t matter from your results, but if you used gas, because of how jagged the crosman bbs were, gas would escape around the sides and make it less accurate. Also, when using a pistol, the barrel is not as long which also means that when the bb is out of the barrel, the gas continues to propel the bb with more force than with a longer barreled gun which decreases the accuracy too.
    Can you see what I’m getting at here?

  13. I do see what you mean, and I even agree that you may have a point, but what gas guns are accurate enough to test? I used a 499 for this test, but there are no CO2 equivalents.

    The gun might throw more of a monkey wrench into the test than the BBs.


  14. I just switched from Crossman Copperheads to Daisy Precision Max BBs and the accuracy improvement was notable! I'm using a Daisy Powerline 880. No more "hook shots".

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